I work hard to make my disobedience socially acceptable: “I have a stubborn streak,” I explain, or “I’m just like my dad.” But the truth is that my weaknesses aren’t cute or transitory—and they’re not anyone else’s fault. Instead, my disobedience is a deep-rooted, rebellious tendency to follow my own path when I should be humbling myself, seeking wisdom, or obeying leaders who know better.
The book of Jonah illustrates these opposing responses to God’s will. We can easily identify with Jonah’s stubborn character. When God tells Jonah to warn Nineveh of its coming judgment, Jonah not only disobeys, but he sets off in the opposite direction. As Jonah’s story progresses, however, we see God orchestrate a reversal. In His incredible mercy, He breaks Jonah’s stubborn streak and replaces it with humility. God also has mercy on the Ninevites—a “people who do not know right from left”—and they repent in sackcloth and ashes (Jonah 4:11).